Settlement of lawsuit about COVID vaccine religious exemptions

COVID-19 vaccine religious exemption

This article about the settlement of a lawsuit and COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about vaccination’s social and legal policies. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Headlines about a settlement between healthcare workers and their employer related to COVID-19 vaccine religious exemptions led people to ask what is the relevance of that settlement. This post explains this settlement and puts the issue in context.

Three points need to be made:

  • First, this is not the first time an employer settled a claim for denial of religious exemption.
  • Second, sometimes the settlement is the result of an employer making mistakes in handling religious exemptions and having a really bad case, and settling is the right thing.
  • Third, in legal terms, the settlement has no relevance to any other case. In practical terms, though, it can be used to put pressure on other employers, even when those employers are on legally solid ground.
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District school vaccine mandates and preemption

vaccine mandates preemption

This article about school district vaccine mandates and the principle of preemption was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about vaccination’s social and legal policies. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On July 5, 2022, Judge Mitchell Beckloff from the Superior Court of Los Angeles granted a petition [add decision] to strike down Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) COVID-19 vaccine mandate. This decision is in line with a previous decision in relation to San Diego’s School District Mandate. In both cases, the heart of the decision is that under current California law, the power to mandate vaccines belongs to the state, not an individual district – in legal terms, that state law preempts the power of the district in this case.

In both cases, this was an issue that could always have gone both ways. It also does not change much on the ground, since LAUSD never actually implemented its mandate. Nonetheless, it does have implications for the districts’ power to mandate vaccines going forward. 

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How to avoid becoming an abortion criminal — my advice

abortion criminal

With the recent Supreme Court decision allowing states to ban abortion, some of those states are going to make it a criminal act to seek an abortion, even if it is outside of their home state. If they are going to make a criminal out of a woman seeking her reproductive rights in a Freedom State (you know, those progressive states that think that women have rights, like California), then I’m here to make some recommendations on how to be a good criminal.

Now, I want to be clear that I am not an attorney, police officer, CIA secret agent, or anything else. My recommendations are based on logical thinking (you know, that trait you need for science) and watching how stupid criminals get caught on Dateline. If you want to get an abortion in a Freedom State, then you need to be careful and think like a criminal.

I know that this article isn’t about science, vaccines, or anything else that might interest you. It’s just that I’m a flaming liberal, and I thought that the right to an abortion was won when I was in elementary school. It’s ridiculous that I have to write this kind of article, but here we are. The anti-women states are going to do everything in their power to criminalize abortions, even trying to regulate drugs that can be used for medical abortions.

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Justice Clarence Thomas says aborted fetal cells are used in COVID vaccines — wrong again

aborted fetal cells vaccines

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has just claimed that COVID-19 vaccines were developed from aborted fetal cells. I can’t believe I have to write this again, but no aborted fetus cells are found in any COVID-19 vaccines. None. Nada. Nichts.

Now aborted fetal cells are used in the development of some vaccines, and one of the COVID vaccines, which I’ll discuss below, but trying to parse whether he meant that those cells are actually in the vaccine is challenging. Either way,. whether he meant that there are those cells in all COVID vaccines OR the vaccines were developed using those cells, they’re both inaccurate to some extent.

I can’t believe I’ve reached a point in my writing career, which generally does not focus on dissenting opinions written by a Supreme Court Justice, but here we are. So let’s get into this nonsense by stating once again that Clarence Thomas is wrong — there are no fetal cells in COVID-19 vaccines. But let’s look at the case and what Thomas wrote in his dissenting opinion.

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California law to limit medical disinformation — anti-vaccine forces whine

medical disinformation

Because so many physicians were spreading disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines and medical treatments, California is considering a new law that would give the Medical Board of California specific authority to take disciplinary action against them. Although the bill is good news for those of us who want to limit medical disinformation from some issues measures that may make it difficult to implement.

And of course, anti-vaxxers are opposed to it because they don’t like it when physicians are required to only provide science-based information rather than kowtow to whatever pseudoscientific nonsense is being pushed by science deniers regarding medicine and vaccines.

The new bill, AB2098, is wending its way through the California legislature, has been passed out of the California Assembly, and is now being reviewed by the state Senate.

Let’s take a look at this bill and see the reasoning behind it.

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Hospital COVID vaccine mandate – Texas Federal District court rejects challenge

Hospital COVID vaccine mandate

This article about a Texas Federal District Court that rejected a challenge to a hospital COVID vaccine mandate was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On June 12, 2021 (yes, a Saturday), a Texas federal district judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by employees of the Houston Methodist Hospital against the hospital’s COVID vaccine mandate which required employees to be vaccinated unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption.

I wrote about the lawsuit here. It is a badly argued lawsuit, with multiple extreme claims, and it does a bad job in setting out the one somewhat plausible argument it has, the argument that you cannot mandate a vaccine under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). 

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The ICAN Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gambit, why it’s dishonest

FOIA ICAN

This article, about the ICAN FOIA gambit, was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

Repeatedly, Del Bigtree’s anti-vaccine organization Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) and others engage in a “FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) gambit” to mislead their followers. Essentially, the FOIA gambit involves asking an agency for something that is not likely to be an agency record, and when the agency said it was not found, claiming that the fact, or point, or something is unproven.

This is misleading because FOIA is only designed to get agency records, not as a tool to ask agencies questions or examine scientific issues. ICAN’s lawyers, at least, should know this, and should so advise their clients. Its repeated use suggests that this is not just ignorance, but dishonesty, and it can work – which is why I am writing this debunking post. 

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Legal challenges to remove religious exemptions to school vaccine mandates rejected by Courts

architecture art clouds landmark

This article challenges to stricter school vaccine mandates was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On December 3, 2019, Judge Denise Hartman, from the New York Supreme Court in Albany (see Note 1), rejected a claim challenging the removal of the religious exemption from school vaccine mandates.

Judge Hartman has previously, in a careful decision upheld on appeal, rejected plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction on stricter school vaccine mandates. In this decision, she provided a well-reasoned, thoughtful analysis of the constitutional issues.

Judge Hartman found that the change in the law in New York was based on public health, not hostility to religion, and fits well within the extensive precedent upholding mandates without requiring a religious exemption.

This lawsuit was the strongest, best-argued challenge to the New York law on religious freedom grounds. Unless plaintiffs appeal, this is likely the end for any serious chance opponents had at overturning the law, and even on appeal, their chances are likely low.

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Baby food and autism — do the lawsuits and internet claims have merit?

baby food autism

For Facebook users, “targeted ads” are a way of life. I ignore them until I saw one from lawyers who were suing baby food manufacturers for causing autism. I guess that they weren’t getting anywhere with the trope that vaccines cause autism (they absolutely don’t), although the quack Del Bigtree continues to push the myth.

As I did for vaccines, I’m going to show you that baby food may or may not be linked to autism. There seem to be some problematic issues with baby food manufacturing, but that does not show a direct link to autism.

Oh yeah, one basic principle you need to understand — lawyers and judges do NOT establish science.

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ICAN lawsuit against CDC statement that vaccines do not cause autism

vaccines autism

This article about another ICAN lawsuit disputing the CDC statement that vaccines do not cause autism was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases. She is also a member of the Vaccines Working Group on Ethics and Policy.

On March 31, 2022, a federal district judge dismissed the Informed Consent Action Network‘s (ICAN) lawsuit demanding that CDC remove the statement that vaccines do not cause autism. The judge dismissed the lawsuit because ICAN failed to show that the alleged harms it claimed were caused by anything CDC did, or that removing the statement would fix the problem that they claim they identified. 

The claim never got to be examined on the merits, and for the purpose of dismissal at this early stage, the judge is required to treat ICAN’s claims as true. But it’s worth reminding readers that extensive data shows that vaccines do not cause autism.

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